Long Stretch

Post 28: March 2017

Sooooo….. 4 weeks in this school just finished. And what a month it has been!!

This school has been crazy! There are supply teachers everywhere, which should set off alarm bells. They are advertising several posts for this school (I saw one candidate walk into my class and found out later that the HT – who was with her – took one look at how I was managing the children and knew instantly that this lady did not have the means to control them).  This school cannot keep regular staff. Many are off on sick and that is so unfortunate for the children. Certainly for the Year 2 class I was taking, their teacher has not been seen for weeks, following several poor lesson observations. I got lots of information from the TA who has seen all sorts of stuff.

So for 4 weeks I had to basically replan the timetable as there has been no consistency for months – no guided reading, no planning of any sort, no basic information about the children’s levels etc. The other staff couldn’t really help either. As well as this, there are some children in the class with amongst the worst behavioural issues I’ve ever encountered. I struggled to be honest in the first week and I was getting cross and frustrated, going home drained. We’re talking about things like a child in particular who has been free all year to do literally whatever he likes: for instance, get up off the carpet and take an iPad from the teacher’s desk drawer and start playing it in the middle of me talking; or shouting and singing in the middle of the session; running amock in the hall when a visiting hockey coach is trying to teach (he told me he dreads coming to this school and has called in sick several times because of the behaviour). The TA told me that this child has been allowed to get away with it and the regular teacher just either ignores him for a quiet life or “just shouts all day; there is a lot of shouting in this class”. No IEP (Individual Education Plan) whatsoever to be seen, so the first thing I do is make a separate plan for him with a variety of rewards for every time he does a task, because typically he is a very low attainer. At the end of this 4 week period he has definitely calmed down and through the perseverance of myself and the TA we have definitely made progress with him. But I worry for him for the rest of the year.

I have worked like a dog whilst here – ie, became a normal teacher again! Working until 10pm most nights, planning and marking. This school has been taken over by an executive HT and it is easy for me to look in as an outsider to see that she is trying her best to turn this school around; the regular staff do not like it and the associated workload it brings, but the school is in special measures so what else can she do? I found myself chatting to the (many) supply teachers and they all said the same thing – you would be crazy to work in this school. There is no consistency and too many regular staff are absent or not pulling their weight. To be fair, I could only comment on what I saw. I kept myself to myself, staying in the classroom every lunchtime to mark and prepare. Morale is definitely low here, but I could say that about the majority of schools I go to.

My time ended there and if it wasn’t for the fact that I am committed to another school after the Easter holidays they would be begging me to stay. But I think my stress levels would go through the roof if I did! I just about got the class to where I wanted by the end, with behaviour pretty much as expected by me. The TA told me that on one day where I was absent, the replacement supply was “appalling”, so bad that she (the TA) went to the office immediately at home time and said never hire her again. It took the class on a backward step from where I got them to. Reading between the lines, it seems almost certain that their regular teacher will not be back but as she is on sick leave her post cannot be advertised specifically so it will be another supply teacher after the holidays. What these children need more than anything is consistency and it does break my heart – no matter how draining the job is, my role is a stop gap and I know this. The children need a regular teacher and all that brings. We did some practice SATs papers and NINE of the children (out of 30) scored zero on the reading test!! The real SATs are in a few weeks. They haven’t been taught how to read! This won’t be the last time I go to this school, I can just tell…..



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